By Gianna Addario
The Salem News
---- — When St. John’s Prep head soccer coach Dave Crowell realized his senior captain and starting keeper, Brian Keogh, would be out of the lineup for the entire 2012 season with an ankle injury, he didn’t panic. Instead, the starting position went to Ben Alpern
and thus far the Beverly native has posted six shutouts.
Other players on the team have seen a few minutes here and there, but for the most part Alpern has been the main guy in net as the Eagles have given up just three goals through the first half of the season.
At 7-1 overall and undefeated in the Catholic Conference (4-0), the Prep is getting it done with numerous contributions from all over the field.
“Part of it is that we have great players,” said Crowell. “But our program is also a winning one. Winning breeds winning. The kids want to keep that winning going.
“This year’s team has come in focused from the start. They see the results we’ve gotten and they take it extremely serious.”
The Prep’s well balanced scoring attack has other teams scratching their heads. Very few teams are able to mark a specific goal scorer, which has allowed the Eagles to outscore their opponents 30-3 through eight games. And it’s not just the forward line recording the goals. It starts in the front and works its way through the middle, with seven players already having multiple goals.
“Our success comes from all over the field,” Crowell said. “It’s not just our backfield preventing goals, we’re really limiting other teams having possession. When we build any attack to a goal, it’s our midfield and strikers, which has also led to our defensive success.”
In their first loss of the season to Weymouth on Saturday, senior captain
Carter Ocko (Danvers) missed the game and was replaced at center back by Tommy Buonopane
(Peabody), who normally plays up front. The minor movement in the lineup prevented Buonopane from scoring and limited to the Prep to only one goal in the game.
What the Prep has been able to do through the first part of the season has set them up for the potential postseason. In fact, with two more games on this week’s schedule, the Eagles could possibly punch their playoff ticket as early as Saturday — providing they win the next two, with a game against Malden Catholic today and one at Andover on Saturday.
“We need to finish at least .500 in order to qualify for the tournament,” added Crowell. “But more importantly we’re looking to secure home field advantage through at least the first round. That’s difficult to do, because of our schedule. It’s strange to think of qualifying for the playoffs this early, usually it’s later in the month.”
The tough schedule that the Eagles play is no coincidence either. Crowell has always made sure that his team plays the best of the best during the regular season, preparing the boys for tournament action. The conference itself is very intense and with only eight teams involved, each game is crucial to the standing, especially today’s at MC.
“We try to play the best team,” Crowell said. “Our conference games are always very intense, but we also play tough teams like Lincoln-Sudbury, Acton-Boxboro and Danvers. There’s no sense in scheduling games you know you’re going to win, you want to be prepared for the tournament.”
Speaking of shutout performances, the Peabody girls team has six consecutive in the seven games that they’ve played so far.
The Tanners had a big game scheduled against Concord-Carlisle last Friday, but with the weather conditions they were forced to change the date to Sunday, October 14. The non-league game will be played at 1 p.m. in Peabody.
The two teams haven’t seen each other since the Division 1 quarterfinals last year, when the Tanners handed CC a 3-0 loss.
In last week’s National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s Adidas high school rankings poll, Peabody was ranked No. 1 overall in its region.
Beverly’s Caitlin Harty
continues to pour in the goals for her club. With 21 goals and six assists in eight games, those numbers have her atop the Northeastern Conference leaderboard in scoring. Harty’s speed has made it difficult for teams to stop the junior striker.
The Masconomet boys team improves to 6-0-2 overall after Monday’s 2-1 win over Georgetown. The undefeated Chieftains have received solid performances from players across the field.
Masco travels to Lynnfield this afternoon in hopes of preserving that undefeated record and another Cape Ann League win.
Just For Kicks, a column on North Shore high school soccer, appears every Wednesday in The Salem News. Contact staff writer Gianna Addario at 978-338-2615, GAddario@salemnews.com and follow her on Twitter @GiannaAddarioSN.
Girls soccer standings
NEC Large W - L - T - PTS Over-All W - L - T - PTS
Peabody 7 - 0 - 0 = 14 7 - 0 - 0 = 14
Beverly 5 - 1 - 0 = 10 6 - 2 - 0 = 12
Revere 2 - 4 - 0 = 4 3 - 4 - 0 = 6
Salem 2 - 3 - 0 = 4 2 - 4 - 1 = 5
Lynn Clasical 1 - 4 - 1 = 3 2 - 5 - 1 = 5
Lynn English 0 - 5 - 1 = 1 1 - 7 - 1 = 3
NEC Small W - L - T - PTS Over-All W - L - T - PTS
Danvers 5 - 0 - 1 = 11 6 - 1 - 2 = 14
Swampscott 3 - 1 - 1 = 7 5 - 1 - 2 = 12
Marblehead 2 - 1 - 2 = 6 3 - 2 - 2 = 8
Saugus 1 - 3 - 1 = 3 3 - 3 - 1 = 7
Gloucester 1 - 4 - 1 = 3 1 - 4 - 2 = 4
Winthrop 1 - 5 - 0 = 2 1 - 5 - 0 = 2
Girls soccer standings NEC large Conf. Overall W-L-T-PTS W-L-T-PTSPeabody 7-0-0 = 14 7-0-0 = 14Beverly 5-1-0 = 10 6-2-0 = 12Revere 2-4-0 = 4 3-4-0 = 6 Salem 2-3-0 = 4 2-4-1 = 5Lynn Clasical 1-4-1 = 3 2-5-1 = 5Lynn English 0-5-1 = 1 1-7-1 = 3NEC Small Conf. Overall W-L-T-PTS W-L-T-PTSDanvers 5-0-1 = 11 6-1-2 = 14Swampscott 3-1-1 = 7 5-1-2 = 12Marblehead 2-1-2 = 6 3-2-2 = 8Saugus 1-3-1 = 3 3-3-1 = 7Gloucester 1-4-1 = 3 1-4-2 = 4Winthrop 1-5-0 = 2 1-5-0 = 2